GRAND ISLE, La. - With a massive oil slick continuing to push westward in the Gulf of Mexico, people who live and work on Grand Isle are preparing for the worst case scenario. It comes as crews began an intensive effort on Monday, to keep oil away from the state's only inhabited barrier island.
"We've been here since 1959. My family - three generations have owned the property," said Mark Dufrene, as he watched crews lay out oil boom near his home.
Over the years, Dufrene's family has dealt with a number of natural disasters, but a major oil spill would be a first.
"It's hard to believe there could actually be something as bad or worse than a hurricane, that can come here and mess things up all over again," he said.
Crews are laying down tens of thousands of feet of oil absorbent and containment boom along Caminada Pass, to try and keep any potential oil from entering the Back Bay and inland marshes near Grand Isle. For now, the oil sheen remains several miles offshore. If it does reach the island, though, officials hope it will stick to the beaches, rather than hit the interior marshes. Beaches are considered much easier to
"Everyone's hollering for booms because of the shortage," said Grand Isle Mayor David Camardelle. "Let's use Grand Isle like a levee system for the oil."
Yet, all the planning may be cold comfort for some. Despite the fact that no oil has washed up onshore, business is grinding to a halt, during a time when it should be in full swing.
"I see my summer's shot. I will not make a penny this summer," said Diana Cheramie, who owns four rental properties near Caminada Pass. People are already calling to cancel vacation rentals. "I didn't think it was going to happen-- but it's happening."
On the east side of the Island, Butch Gaspard owns the Sand Dollar Marina, a restaurant and a hotel. He is already warning his employees about the grim situation.
"We're pretty much hurting right now because there is nothing coming in," Gaspard said. "I told them to get ready for unemployment because is things don't pick up, we can't stay open. We can probably survive losing May, but if we lose June and July, we can't survive."
Officials said, based on forecasts, it could be several days before oil begins washing up on Grand Isle.